The fast-growing foreign fashion and celebrity cult and their patronage by the Malaysian elite is a trend that is worth serious reflection lest they become synonymous with the upbeat mood inspired by globalisation – a mood which has the potential of drowning the PM’s call for glocalisation

The overriding claim that Malaysian fashion, in particular Islamic fashion, needs to be showcased regularly at home and abroad bears little sense when the lavish designs which appear on the catwalk are the very antithesis of Quranic teachings about modesty and restraint. Besides, the claim that there needs to be a global trend in Islamic dressing shows little regard for the uniqueness of each Islamic culture shaped by its own history and traditions. Malaysian Muslims dress in particular ways which make them outstanding among the other Muslim peoples.

Alarming too is the free ride taken by some charities on the fashion bandwagon. The fact that these charities support orphanages, diseases and disabilities makes fund-raising events like fashion shows incongruous to the cause. It then becomes unbearable to see a table of orphans, disabled children and  their administrators being treated to ostentatious displays of decor and dress which they do not understand at all.

 Another trend receiving much publicity is the import of foreign celebrities to promote a local cause. While the argument that these actors and singers and even politicians lend glamour to the event and bring in the corporate sponsorship, one wonders if this hijacking of the concept of corporate social responsibility is something Malaysia really wants or needs.

Corporate social responsibility must transcend token cheques doled out to prestigious organisations who have great financial resources to invite these prominent people. Small groups and individuals who want to contribute in some little way to society struggle for want of support.

It’s high time the movers and shakers of the public and private sectors rethink their strategies and spare a thought and some cash for those of us who want to effect change in little ripples. After all, if  more people are committed to contribute their skills and expertise to make Malaysia a better place does this not reflect an egalitarian society where people are given equal opportunities?


1 Response to “”

  1. 1 Gopal Raj Kumar
    January 2, 2011 at 7:10 am

    It is more than a sick cult. It is at the very least in the west, an orgy of greed and lust financed by taxpayers. I am no prude Nini. I admit to having been to many such a function in my youth feasting my eyes on the many mannequins and bimbos strutting their stuff on the catwalk (what else do you call them) of the world’s capital cities.

    Angelina Jolie and others like her and the entertainer soft porn artiste Madonna who have little time to put their own confused lives back into order are often seen with children of every known colour and shape from all corners of the globe. These are carefully selected and weaned like pedigree cats and dogs by minders in many of these so called charities. They are then photographed, dangling fashionably under each arm of their adopted parents for effect, to promote this new fad of the new fashion accessory the ‘orphan child’.

    The dangers of this industry, an imported western fad is highlighted in the following cases: Woody Allen and his estranged wife Mia Farrow one might recall adopted amongst others an attractive Korean orphan girl. Allen ended up (after obtaining legal advice) moving in with, having a relationship (not a platonic one) and marrying his adopted daughter, the Korean born Soon Yi.

    Put it more crudely this is People smuggling and pimping on the weak and the needy. It is People smuggling with a difference. The people smugglers in this instance are more ‘respectable’ and monied than the Chinese Triad, the Iraki desperado or the Kabuli Wallah at the Khyber pass selling Australia bound boat tickets.

    We know from pop star Madonna’s adoption of Malawian child David from an ‘orphanage’ that David did indeed have a caring father. The father was told the child would go abroad for an education then return when he was older. Then there is the case of the controversial adoption of an Ethiopian child by Jolie and Pitt. An Ethiopian judge ruled in their favour after it was revealed he was ‘taken care of’ by a third party. These are by no means isolated cases unless one is still living outside Ulan Baatar in Mongolia. But this is just one aspect of human trafficking by ‘respectable’ socialites. It is a problem which governments tend to overlook because the trafficking methods do not fit the media stereotypical image of the cruder methods of the scraggly bearded Iraki, Afghan or the more sinister looking Chinese Triad.

    Even organizations as respectable as the International Red Cross have been found to have been negligent and therefore complicit in this sinister practice of ‘adoptions’ involving high profile international celebrities (promoting the cult of celebrity worship). Admittedly they are not the only organization culpable in this trade. Many others and especially so called western based NGO’s now breeding like flies in places like Malaysia have a lot to answer for the growth of this ugly phenomenon.

    The industry of Charities in fact (in the west and in common law countries) revolves around a more sinister theme. Tax evasion and tax reduction schemes.

    This is how it works. A group organizes a charity and has it duly registered as one. It then applies to its local tax office for a deductible gift recipient (DGR) certificate and effects registration.

    The charity then receives its DGR Certificate given in good faith by the tax office which it then proceeds to use to promote such events as the ones you rightly criticize. With each dollar a high income celebrity or businessman ‘contributes’ to the event hosted by this Charity with the DGR, they receive a dollar back in tax free credit from the tax office up to a certain threshold. Say that threshold is $50,000 per taxpayer (celebrity), the taxpayer then replicates the exercise multiplied by the number of beneficiaries in the taxpayers trust or group. So that’s $50,000 times the number of beneficiaries from the trust or other qualifying group in the scheme. That’s money that could have gone to eradicating poverty and corruption the NGO’s so loudly so often complain of.

    The Charities that organize such events, often take up to 90 cents in each dollar you donate to these events as their expenses. They have to pay high flying socialites and meet the ‘riders’ in their contracts (meaning their little extras on the side) so that the event would be successful.

    The UN is largely to blame for giving credibility to such scams. They appointed at various times pop group ABBA, Olivia Newton John and others as goodwill ambassadors although they claim it was all done for free. Try that again?

    Each of the goodwill ambassadors in this class were paid handsomely and as a PR stunt they would ‘donate their earnings’ to a favourite charity. I won’t give you any prizes for guessing how that would then work in the favour of the artiste.

    There are agencies in the US and in the UK that act for prominent public figures who charge by the hour for an appearance at such functions complete with stage manager and promoter who will stage manage the event propped up with hungry African and South American children, specially selected for the event. These ‘charitable pop stars and actors and actresses don’t come cheap’. Meryl Streep was in the late 1990’s being peddled for $80,000 per hour plus plus.

    No one ever asks what happened to George Harrison’s concert for Bangladesh in 1971. The late Beatle raised tens of millions from that event and less than $2,000,000 eventually went to relieving hunger and disease in Bangladesh.

    More recently of course was the Save the World star studded event for the Ethiopian famine promoted by Bob Geldoff. The hundreds of millions raised went every which way but loose. Again, there were extravagant gifts and lifestyles of NGO’s and pop stars and organizers to pay for. The Ethiopian victims of the famine were a mere prop in a huge concert in which rich trendies made millions.

    What’s most dangerous about the commercialization of charities and public figures is that they can be bought to promote political causes like the Australians did in dividing East Timor from Timor Indonesia.

    Are we to repeat these scandals and become a dumping ground for the scams of the rich and famous? Or are we now a part of that multi billion dollar industry euphemistically referred to as Charities in which the helpless, the poor and the weak are mere props to provide rich pickings for the already rich.

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